Visual Vocal, a Seattle startup that develops virtual 3D environment productivity tools, has raised a $3.6 million investment round.
The two-year-old company announced the funding on Friday; Eniac Ventures led the round, while Scout Ventures, Spider Capital, and the Alliance of Angels also participated.
Visual Vocal works with enterprises to create 3D visualizations that are transformed into virtual reality experiences and viewable via smartphone. Its cloud-based communication platform enables teams to collaborate remotely in real-time and exchange feedback with voice technology.
Visual Vocal provides a binocular viewer that hooks onto a user’s smartphone and lets them see renderings in virtual reality. The company’s customers work in architecture, construction, automotive, aerospace, and other industries.
The Visual Vocal tool is built around getting input from others. Users can cycle through design elements in an architectural design, or the placement of features in an engineering mockup, getting a 3D view of the options before they’re actually produced. As users go through the options, Visual Vocal’s system tracks their favorites so the tester doesn’t have to remember what looked best after the fact.
Since Visual Vocal’s pocket-sized tool works as well on a phone as it does on a true VR headset like the Oculus or HTC Vive, that also means it’s portable. Designers can bring it along to client meetings, or it can even be sent to researchers in the field who don’t have access to powerful VR setups.
The phone form factor also helps reduce motion sickness issues that often pop up with VR. And since the idea is to share pre-finished products, these VR experiences don’t need to be quite as polished as more consumer-focused media.
The software also features a mobile “VR inbox” that organizes messages, meetings, and project updates.
Visual Vocal, founded in partnership with NBBJ, is led by CEO John SanGiovanni and Sean House, co-founder and CTO. The 12-person company raised $500,000 for their VR startup last year, under the name 18Angles, which was the working title for Visual Vocal. SanGiovanni, a former GeekWire Geek of the Week, co-founded mobile content marketing company Zumobi in 2007 after working at Microsoft Research.
While virtual reality technology hasn’t quite caught on with mainstream consumers, it certainly has value in the enterprise arena given the traction of companies like Visual Vocal. At the GeekWire Summit this week, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson talked about how the coffee giant uses VR to enhance its store design process.
— GeekWire (@geekwire) October 10, 2017
Visual Vocal is one of many new up-and-coming virtual reality startups in the Seattle area. Others include Pluto VR, Pixvana, Polyarc, VRStudios, VREAL, Endeavor One, AxonVR, Nullspace VR, and several others. Those are in addition to larger companies like Microsoft, Valve, HTC, and Oculus that also are developing virtual and augmented reality technologies in the region.